Release Radar – August 5th, 2022

The release calendar is in overdrive as the Summer season begins its descent. I have another film to review as well, so let’s get straight to it! Here’s what’s on deck this weekend:

Bullet Train (Theaters + IMAX)

Director: David Leitch

Writers: Zak Olkewicz (screenplay), Kôtarô Isaka (based on the book by)

Starring: Brad Pitt, Joey King, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Sandra Bullock

If you have been to theaters or watched television over the last six months, then you have probably seen the trailer for Brad Pitt’s latest movie. My general rule is: the more you have to advertise it to me, the worse it is. The trailer tells us that this movie has a great cast, the promise of stellar action, plenty of color, and at least an attempt at humor, so the studio shouldn’t have to try so hard to sell it. However, it seems like it wants to walk the line between being serious and being flippantly stylish. For my money, they buried the lead by hiding Michael Shannon because he’s the primary reason I am considering going to see this one.

Bodies Bodies Bodies (Theaters)

Director: Halina Reijn

Writers: Sarah DeLappe (screenplay) Kristen Roupenian (story)

Starring: Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Pete Davidson, and Lee Pace

A drug and alcohol-fueled weekend of turns deadly for a group of friends when an innocent enough party game turns into a living slasher flick. If you had any doubt, the original track “Hot Girl” by Charli XCX will let you know just what kind of vibe you’re in for with this one. Maria Bakalova (Borat) and Amandla Stenberg are going to be responsible for making this work, but I am in it to see what Lee Pace does as the older facilitator of 20-something debauchery. It presents with color and style in the trailer, but we’ll see.

Claydream (Theaters)

Written & Directed by: Marq Evans

Starring (Self): Will Vinton, Peter Lord, and Craig Bartlett

This documentary looks at the dark side of claymation and the rise and fall of its principal inventor, Will Vinton. Claymation exploded on the entertainment scene in the 80s but there was a lot going on behind the scenes as the revolutionary new technique changed the face of animation. This one looks very interesting for, especially for film and art history lovers.

Prey (Hulu)

Director: Dan Trachtenberg

Writers: Patrick Aison & Dan Trachtenberg, Jim Thomas & John Thomas (characters)

Starring: Amber Midthunder, Dakota Beavers, Stormee Kipp, and Dan DiLiegro

The Predator franchise has certainly had its ups and downs over the years and it’s not exactly an overwhelming vote of confidence that 20th Century Studios had this one sent straight to Hulu, but that’s not going to stop me from watching it. I will reserve judgment until I watch it tonight, but I do have some reservations. Credit to the studio for going with a cast that’s mostly comprised of Native and First Nation actors, but why does this tribe speak English if this is set approximately in the early 1700s? The studio probably wouldn’t have green-lit the project if it wasn’t in spoken English. Also, how does an intergalactic killing machine that we’ve seen mow down heavily-armed, highly-trained soldiers, with laser canons and stealth tech keep things competitive and interesting with such advantages? I’ll have to watch the movie and let you know.

*I Love My Dad (Theaters) – Editor’s Pick*

Written & Directed by: James Morosini

Starring: Patton Oswalt, James Morosini, and Claudia Sulewski

Of all the films this week, nothing is as original or as funny as a dad who inadvertently catfishes his own son. Tapping into the pains of online dating and the chasm that sometimes exists between parents and their kids, even if this movie doesn’t fire on every cylinder, Patton Oswalt is the perfect kind of comedic performer to pull off this kind of bold comedy from sophomore director and star, James Morosini. That’s why I am going to make this my Editor’s Pick.

Tin Can (Theaters)

Director: Seth A Smith | Writers: Seth A Smith, Darcy Spidle

Starring: Anna Hopkins, Michael Ironside, Simon Mutabazi (voice),and Amy Trefry

If I were a genre, I’d be low-budget, high-concept, science fiction. This movie fits firmly into that box as the world’s best hope against a deadly plague is a scientist who just woke up inside a Tin Can. Honestly, that’s more than I got from the trailer but I will still watch the crap out of this.

What Else Is New…

Carter (Netflix)

Director: Byung-gil Jung | Writers: Byung-gil Jung, Byeong-sik Jung

Starring: Kim Bo-Min, Andreas Fronk, and Camilla Belle

A man wakes up with no memory of who he is, but he still remembers how to whoop some ass. This looks like a cross between Hardcore Henry and The Girl With All The Gifts. Kinetic visual action mixed with a mission to rescue one girl who can stop a quickly spreading plague. This has “weekend afternoon couch movie” written all over it!

Mija (Theaters)

Director: Isabel Castro | Writer: Chris Boeckmann (story consultant)

Starring: Doris Muñoz, Jacks Haupt, and Carlos Muñoz

This documentary from Disney looks at the lives of two people in the music industry who are the first American-born members of their families and the unique guilt they share. First-generation Americans from immigrant families have unique protection under the law that isn’t afforded to all of their family members and there is one deportation story at the center of this film that highlights that disparity. Colorful and poignant, this could be a really good movie if everything falls into place but I will still wait for it to hit Disney+.

Luck (Theaters + Apple TV+)

Director: Peggy Holmes

Writers: Kiel Murray, Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger

Starring (voices): Eva Noblezada, Simon Pegg, and Jane Fonda

A story about a young woman whose terrible luck is turned around by a lucky penny and the implications that have for her life and her fate is an interesting setup, but that’s not exactly what this is. Instead, the lucky penny leads this young woman to the secret realm of good luck and bad luck that govern the universe. Meh. I have seen this advertised all over Apple TV+ and it’s good for them to have some original animated films for kids, but I’ll pass.

Easter Sunday (Theaters)

Director: Jay Chandrasekhar | Writers: Kate Angelo, Ken Cheng

Starring: Jo Koy, Lydia Gaston, Tia Carrere, and Tiffany Haddish

Director Jay Chandrasekhar knows how to make comedies and has directed a number of projects that I have enjoyed. I like some of the other pieces of this puzzle too, but this trailer did zero for me. I think I laughed once. Laughter is involuntary and, if they couldn’t even find some good highlights for the trailer, I have very little faith in the final project. Jo Koy is a very popular stand-up comic but if this movie is supposedly based on his life, he probably should have been the one writing it. Maybe it all lands differently for the Filipino audience it’s clearly intended for or maybe it works as a quirky family drama, but I’ll pass.

They/Them (Peacock)

Written & Directed by: John Logan

Starring: Kevin Bacon, Anna Chlumsky, and Theo Germaine

The official storyline for this straight-to-streaming release is, “LGBTQIA+ empowerment tale set at a gay conversion camp.” That’s a description, not a storyline. NBC/Peacock should be embarrassed that they let that go to print. Anyway, conversion therapy is a real thing filled with its own psychological and emotional horrors, but to use that to set up a slasher flick just completely fumbles the point. Plus, in watching the trailer, not a single one of these “kids” looks like they are under the age of 18 and that’s because they’re not. I get that it’s acting but it is once again misunderstanding a key element of what makes conversion therapy so terrifying. You may have well just made it a cabin-in-the-woods slasher flick starring the same fully-fledged adults. John Logan has written a number of films that I have liked, but horror isn’t exactly his sweet spot and his directorial debut appears to be utterly panderific. That said, there’s a good chance I will watch it anyway because of Kevin Bacon and Anna Chlumsky.

Thirteen Lives (Amazon)

Director: Ron Howard | Writers: William Nicholson with Don Macpherson (story)

Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Colin Farrell, and Joel Edgerton

Based on the true story of the Tham Luang cave rescue in Thailand in 2018, this dramatization has a starred studded cast and venerable director at the helm. I previewed this one last week as it had its limited theatrical run, but now it hits streaming on Amazon.

Thanks for reading! I still believe word of mouth is the best way to help, so if you enjoy what I’m doing, please tell somebody. And if you have a comment, I’d love to hear it! Liking, subscribing, and sharing go a long way too. As usual, be well, be safe, and have fun no matter how you get your movies!